Use Google Flights to find low cost routes around Europe

My Norway trip planning for a two-week itinerary has me considering low cost flights to travel to another country in Europe for a few days. This trip option has me looking at potential destinations outside Norway using low cost carriers to travel from Oslo for under $200 round trip.

This post explains how I use Google Flights to find low cost routes around Europe for travel from Oslo, Norway. Oslo is my ticketed destination from San Francisco, but flying to another destination in Europe is far less expensive than airline travel over equivalent distances in the USA. These are paid tickets. No frequent flyer miles necessary.

Yesterday, I posted about the high cost of food in Norway and why I might spend part of my trip in some other country where travel expenses are more budget-friendly. The idea here is to examine the possibilities for air travel ex-Norway using Google Flights to find low cost routes from Oslo. This strategy can be applied from any other destination in Europe.

My strategy for travel to Europe is simply get the lowest fare you can find to any destination in Europe and then use low cost carriers to get where you truly want to be. This can mean an extra day or two of travel, so the strategy is for travelers who value lower airfare over time. This strategy can be something like a $500+ savings on airfare per person. The inconvenience of additional airport travel to save $500 is worth my time since it allows me to see more than Norway. This strategy may not be worth your time, if time rather than money is your primary travel constraint.

Norwegian Airlines sparks airfare war

March 2014, I purchased a round trip ticket from San Francisco to Oslo on United Airlines for $541. I thought the low fare would be gone in a day or two. The discount airfare sale lasted over a month as United and Delta challenged the upstart Norwegian Airlines in specific US markets like San Francisco, New York and Miami.

I had been waiting for many months for a low airfare to Europe. While I normally focus on hotels, I wrote several posts in March 2014 about how to use the low airfares on United and Delta to Denmark, Norway and Sweden for lower cost airfare to many destinations around Europe.

Norway in some way for two weeks in September (March 10, 2014)

Radisson Blu Polar Hotel Spitsbergen, Longyearbyen is world’s northernmost hotel (March 12, 2014)

Visiting more of Europe than solely your ticket destination with transit stops (March 21, 2014)

United Newark-Paris $611 round trip in spring and fall using ITA Software to find it (March 25, 2014) The airfare deal is gone, but the tutorial on ITA Software to find route options still applies)

LAX-Paris or LAX-AMS $660 United with Stockholm or Copenhagen stopover spring and fall travel (March 25, 2014) This post explains how to work in stopovers.

LAX to Scandinavia for $500, then hopscotch flights around Europe (March 26, 2014) Similar post to today’s post on finding low cost routes using Google Flights.

Thank you Norwegian. Cut $500 off airfare to Athens for TBEX Europe 14 (March 26, 2014)

People I spoke to about my plans to travel to Norway for two weeks in September and then to Greece in October seemed to view Greece highly favorably as a tourist destination, yet expressed little interest in $500 flights from California to Norway. The point I argued is flying to Norway would get you from California to Europe inexpensively, then from there you can take a low cost airline to the country you want to visit. The common response was “I want to fly direct.” or “I don’t want to buy two airline tickets.” For me, flying to Greece for $700 via Norway rather than $1,300 for a direct flight to Athens was extra time I don’t mind spending to save on airfare.

For many travelers, time is the primary consideration. Spending an extra day or two in transit with additional time in airports is a trip buster. For me, an extra day or two getting to and from airports to save $500 on airfare is a reasonable exchange. Traveling across Europe by plane is often as quick as traveling 300 miles by train.

Norwegian Airlines is still flying out of U.S. markets and I think their low airfares to Scandinavia will likely create another fare war to Europe with the major airlines at some point during the next nine months.

Oslo, Norway as the ticketed destination does not mean Oslo has to be the trip destination.

I am ticketed to fly into Oslo, Norway and leave 13 days after arrival. My favored travel style is going to one place for three or four days. I like to soak in the ambience of a place and get a sense of what it would be like to live there. That kind of familiarity with a place rarely comes in 24 to 48 hours.

Since September is often a great weather month for many places in Europe, the idea of going to another country is also appealing to me. I can spend 8 or 9 days in Norway and go to some other country for 4 or 5 days.

With less than seven weeks before my trip to Oslo, many travelers would be freaking out to have itinerary details not planned out yet. I am not concerned. I decided yesterday to look at setting an itinerary and I expect that will occupy much of my time over the next two weeks. No stress needed.

I simply need to pick three locations besides Oslo where I want to spend my time in Norway or elsewhere.

Google Flights for Finding Low Cost Flights out of Oslo, Norway

Google Flights is my first resource for locating low cost airfare from Oslo.

Google Flights OSL-1

I search one-way fares from OSL. The + button lets you expand the airfare search from other regional airports. There are five airports in the Oslo region.

I am flying United Airlines into OSL Gardermoen Airport. Flying put of Gardermoen might save time and money. Low cost airlines commonly operate out of secondary regional airports, so I also want to search for flights from the alternative Oslo airports RYG, TRF, NTB and SKE since I do not know which carriers operate out of which airports.

Google Flights OSL-2

Set up search for one way out of Oslo Airports for a specific date with no destination.

Search results show London $28, Rome $88 and Moscow $107.

Click ‘Expand map’ and focus on portions of Europe to quickly find other low airfares around Europe.

Google Flights OSL-3

Google Flights expanded map view. The more the map is expanded, the more airports that will show prices. This view focuses on the Baltic nations Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, Poland, Sweden, Denmark and northern Germany.

  • Riga, Latvia $25 WizzAir TRF-RIX ($60 Air Baltic OSL-RIX)
  • Vilnius, Latvia $33 RyanAir RYG-VNO
  • Gdansk, Poland $48 RyanAir RYG-GDN (TRF-GDN fare is $12 WizzAir Sun Sep 7)
  • Copenhagen, Denmark $73 Norwegian Air OSL-CPH
  • Klaipeda, Latvia $80 ($65 Norwegian Air OSL-PLQ on Sat, Sep 6)
  • Tallinn, Estonia $80 Air Baltic OSL-TLL ($28 lower fare alternate date: Friday, Sep 5 RyanAir RYG-TLL or $91 Business Class Estonian Air/SAS)
  • Vilnius, Latvia $80 Air Baltic OSL-VNO
  • Hamburg, Germany $93 Air Baltic/Air Berlin OSL-HAM ($82 Sep 6, Germanwings OSL-HAM)

These are rates for one date. There may be lower fares on a different date.

Repositioning the map shows other low airfare destinations for travel to 13 other countries for under $100 one-way.

  • London, UK $28 RyanAir RYG-STN
  • Brussels, Belgium $33 RyanAir RYG-CRL
  • Krakow, Poland $59 RyanAir RYG-KRK
  • Geneva, Switzerland $65 Norwegian Air OSL-GVA
  • Copenhagen, Denmark $73 Norwegian Air OSL-CPH
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands $73 Norwegian Air OSL-AMS
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands $76 SAS OSL-AMS
  • Rome, Italy $88  RyanAir RYG-CIA
  • Dubrovnik, Croatia $89 (Tue, Sep 9 $89 Norwegian Air TRF-DBV)
  • Athens, Greece (Sun Sep 7 – $89 Norwegian Airlines OSL-ATH)
  • Kerkira, Greece $91 RyanAir RYG-CFU
  • Barcelona, Spain $91 RyanAir RYG-BCN
  • Berlin, Germany $93 Air Berlin OSL-TXL Air Baltic $80 has 4.5 hour layover in Riga, Latvia.
  • Zurich, Switzerland $94 Air Baltic OSL-ZRH
  • Vienna, Austria $94 Air Baltic OSL-VIE

Google Flights OSL-4

Google Flights shows Krakow, Poland at $59. The calendar bar graph shows Friday, September 5 is much higher at $146 and Sunday, September 7 is lower airfare at $29. Sliding your computer mouse along bars shows airfare for that date. This is how to check multiple dates quickly for any destination.

Next Post is a Closer Look at the Low Cost Carrier Options

This post shows that air travel across Europe can be far less expensive than air travel in the USA. But not all low cost carriers are the same good deal.

RyanAir has lots of low fares, but charges higher fees for checked bags and other services. Plus, Moss-Rygge airport means transiting from OSL Gardermoen to another airport. That is time and train travel expense.

WizzAir and Air Baltic have the same high checked bag fees. Flights out of OSL airport are more convenient for me. Flights to the main airport are also a consideration rather than some regional airport. FCO is the main international airport for Rome, Italy. Arriving at CIA may not be as convenient.

The next post in this low cost carrier series will look at these additional considerations of checked bag fees, baggage restrictions and additional fees for flying the budget airlines.

I will also write a piece on travel from Oslo to other destinations in Norway since I will not be staying too long in Oslo. I want to travel north of the Arctic Circle in Norway.

This Norway Trip Planning series will look at the cost of travel around Norway using planes, trains, automobiles and ferries.


Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.

Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. Check out current hotel loyalty program offers across all the major chains in Loyalty Traveler’s monthly hotel promotions guide.

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About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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  1. Nice post. I’ve been using the site for awhile now and have noticed one big thing to consider – when searching for intra-European flights you should always check round trip options (even if you don’t plan to take the return portion) as I have found significant deals like this.

    For example, searching MXP-VIE one way in November gives many flights over $500 with desirable times, but when searched as a round trip they come all the way down to $200 or so.

  2. Another vote for Skyscanner. I use this site ALOT to compare prices for car rentals as well as flights. It is angreat *tool*. When using their flight search you type in your departure city and then for your arrival city…type everywhere and you will get a list of countries with the cheapest flight options. 😉

  3. I would definitely vote for Copenhagen, Denmark (CPH) or Hamburg, Germnay (HAM). Very nice walking cities 🙂

  4. @Pludester and Bethany – thanks of mentioning Skyscanner.

    I’ll check that out and see what I find.

    @Matt S – I’ll compare roundtrip prices and see what differences come up.

    @Grant – Hamburg is a city I have never explored. The main reason I’d exclude Copenhagen from this trip is I think the Norwegian Air fare war will happen again with low fares to Copenhagen from California and that will likely be a destination city for another trip.

  5. Skyscanner is very useful. While I played around with Google Flights maps to find all the different countries where I could fly on the cheap, Skyscanner does that as its default mode.

    I am working on a tutorial for how Skyscanner helps me find low airfare for the Norway trip and comparison to Google Flights.

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